Jay Cutler Workout: Train Like a Champion

Jay Cutler Workout

The Mr. Olympia is the World Cup, and Superbowl of bodybuilding all rolled into one. The competitors train hard and long to build as much muscle mass as possible and then shed every bit of unwanted fat to reveal eye-popping definition. Bodybuilders call this “getting ripped.”

Ironically, while bodybuilders train for size, it isn’t always the biggest bodybuilder that wins. Sometimes, the better small guy can beat the bigger, less conditioned guy. Things like balance, symmetry, proportion, presentation and posing are all assessed by the panel of judges to determine the winner.

That said, while bodybuilders do come in all shapes and sizes, the sport is currently dominated by the so-called mass monsters. Looking like they come from a different planet, these competitors often weigh in at close to 300 pounds – ripped!

Jay Cutler is a four-time winner of the Mr. Olympia crown and is one of the most well-known faces of bodybuilding. Like his predecessors, Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates, Cutler is another mass monster.

In this article, we reveal some of the workouts that Jay Cutler used to build his championship-winning physique.

Who is Jay Cutler?

Jay Cutler

Jason (Jay) Isaac Cutler was born on August 3rd, 1973, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Unlike many bodybuilders, Cutler showed no natural sporting prowess in his youth and was, by his own admission, a skinny teenager. Deciding it was time to start bulking up, at the age of 18, Cutler began lifting weights to gain some weight.

Just two years later, at the age of 20, Jay Cutler entered and won his first bodybuilding show – the 1992 Gold Gym Worcester Bodybuilding Championships. From that moment on, Cutler dedicated himself to becoming one of the biggest and best bodybuilders in the history of the sport.

After graduating from Quinsigamond Community College in 1993 with a degree in criminal justice, Cutler earned his pro card and soon started winning national and international titles, including the IFBB Night of Champions in 2000 and the Arnold Classic in 2002.  

Jay Cutler went on to win four Mr. Olympia titles – 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. He came second in 2008 against Dexter Jackson but came back bigger and better the following year to regain the top spot.

Cutler retired from competitive bodybuilding in 2013 after finishing 6thin his 13thMr. Olympia. However, despite no longer being a competitive pro, Cutler remains part of the bodybuilding scene and has his own range of bodybuilding supplements – Cutler Nutrition. He’s also authored a training book and featured in several DVDs.

Jay Cutler Stats:

  • Height: 5’ ft 10”
  • Off-season weight: 290 lbs.
  • Competition weight: 260 lbs.
  • Upper arms: 22”
  • Chest: 58”
  • Thighs: 30”
  • Waist: 34”
  • Calves: 20”

Jay Cutler Workout

The first thing to clarify is that there is no single official Jay Cutler workout. Like every successful bodybuilder, Cutler changed his workouts according to his competitive schedule, what areas of his physique he needed to improve, and how he felt on any given day.

That said, he primarily relied on a volume approach to bodybuilding, meaning he did lots of sets of multiple muscle groups per workout. High volume training was popularized by, among others, Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a widely used method for building muscle mass.

Cutler was also a very strong bodybuilder and often used very heavy weights in training. However, as he got older and gained even more experience, he came to realize that heavy weights aren’t always best for building muscle and that workout quality is just as important as training poundage.

A typical weekly training split for Jay Cutler looked something like this:

  • Day 1: Chest
  • Day 2: Back
  • Day 3: Arms
  • Day 4: Off
  • Day 5: Shoulders
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Off

Dedicating one session to each muscle group, an approach called a body part split, meant that Cutler could train with lots of volume. However, there was also plenty of time for recovery, as each muscle group was only worked once per week.

Workout 1 – Chest

No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Incline bench press 3-4 8-12
2 Incline dumbbell bench press 3-4 8-12
3 Machine pec deck 3-4 8-12
4 Dumbbell fly 3-4 8-12
5 Barbell bench press 3-4 8-12
6 Cable crossover 3-4 8-12
7 Dumbbell pullover 3-4 8-12


Workout 2 – Back

No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Nautilus pullover 3-4 8-12
2 Lat pulldown (wide grip) 3-4 8-12
3 Hammer strength low row 3-4 8-12
4 Lat pulldown (underhand grip) 3-4 8-12
5 Barbell bent-over row 3-4 8-12
6 Seated cable row (neutral grip) 3-4 8-12
7 Seated cable row (overhand grip) 3-4 8-12
8 45-degree back extension 3-4 8-12


Workout 3 – Arms

Jay Cutler


No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Rope pushdown 3-4 8-12
2 Close grip bench press 3-4 8-12
3 Triceps pushdown (straight bar) 3-4 8-12
4 Overhead dumbbell triceps extension 3-4 8-12
5 Single-arm cable pushdown (underhand grip) 3-4 8-12
6 Barbell biceps curl 3-4 8-12
7 Alternating hammer curls 3-4 8-12
8 Single-arm machine preacher curls 3-4 8-12
9 Alternating dumbbell curls 3-4 8-12
10 Reverse curl 3-4 8-12


Workout 4 – Shoulders and calves

No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Seated dumbbell lateral raise 3-4 8-12
2 Seated dumbbell overhead press 3-4 8-12
3 Cable lateral raise 3-4 8-12
4 Alternating dumbbell front raise 3-4 8-12
5 Reverse peck deck 3-4 8-12
6 Bent-over rear delt fly 3-4 8-12
7 Standing calf raise 3-4 8-12
8 Donkey calf raise 3-4 8-12
9 Seated calf raise 3-4 8-12


Workout 5 – Legs


No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Leg extension 3-4 8-12
2 Leg press 3-4 8-12
3 Machine hack squat 3-4 8-12
4 Barbell lunges 3-4 8-12
5 Smith machine front squat 3-4 8-12
6 Seated leg curl 3-4 8-12
7 Seated leg curl 3-4 8-12
8 Supine leg curl 3-4 8-12
9 Romanian deadlift 3-4 8-12
10 Kneeling leg curl 3-4 8-12

In addition to the workouts above, Cutler also trained his abs 2-3 times a week, often after his early morning cardio session. A typical abs workout for Jay Cutler was:

No: Exercise Sets Reps
1 Crunch machine 3-4 12-20
2 Cable crunch 3-4 12-20
3 Hanging leg raise   3-4 12-20
4 Leg lifts   3-4 12-20


Jay Cutler Workout Tips

As a four-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title and a professional bodybuilder for nearly 20 years, it’s safe to say that Jay Cutler knew a thing or two about building bigger muscles and getting stronger.

Here are a few tips from Jay Cutler on how to get the most from your workouts:

1. Use what works

Jay Cutler Leg Workout

Jay Cutler relied on high volume, long-duration workouts to build his championship-winning physique. However, while that approach worked for him, it may not work for you. To build the best body possible, you need to be prepared to experiment and try different methods to find out what’s best for you.

Once you’ve cracked your own personal bodybuilding code, stick with what works, and don’t worry about what other lifters are doing.

2. Add sets, and not reps

Cutler rarely took his sets to failure. Instead, he stuck to 8-12 hard reps and did more sets whenever he felt he needed to push himself harder. This, Cutler believed, was safer than doing more reps and also easier to recover from. More sets may also help with muscle density and hardness.

3. Get your rest!

If you train long and hard, you need to train long and hard, too. Your body does most of its repair, recovery, and growth while you sleep, so most bodybuilders need at least eight hours of shuteye per night.

Also, make sure you avoid doing similar workouts back-to-back, such as chest one day and shoulders the next. Sequence your workouts so that there are several days between overlapping muscle groups.

4. Keep your rests between sets short

Cutler rarely rested longer than 60-seconds between sets. This helped him get a good pump and also may result in an increase in growth hormone and testosterone production. In addition, shorter rests mean you can cram more sets into your workout, leading to greater productivity.

5. Bring up weaknesses with twice-a-week workouts

According to jay Cutler, the best way to bring up a lagging body part is to train it twice a week. For example, if your legs are your weakest muscle group, train them at the start of the week and then again 2-3 days later using different exercises. Cutler did this himself to build his back, which was once considered a weak link in his physique.

6. Assess and reassess constantly

The only way to build a winning physique is to assess your workouts and adjust it based on your progress. Even the best-written program may not be perfect, and it’s important to recognize when changes are needed.

Use the scales, photographs, and feedback from trusted training partners to assess your progress and then modify your workouts accordingly.

7. Trust yourself

Bodybuilders are bombarded with training information, and much of it is contradictory. It can be tempting to jump on the latest workout bandwagon just because it’s new or sounds compelling.

However, only you know how your body responds to training and the exercises in your workouts. Trust your instincts, and don’t get dragged off-course by training information that may not help you on your quest to get bigger and stronger.

8. It’s okay to improvise

While you should follow a training plan and a structured diet and stick to them most of the time, it’s also okay to improvise from time to time. Knees aching? Forget the squats and do some knee-friendly reverse lunges instead. All out of eggs for breakfast? Make a protein smoothie.

Do whatever you need to do to stay on course, even if it means not following your plan perfectly.

9. Eat like a pro

A house is only as solid as the materials used to make it, and the same is true of your body. If you are serious about building as much muscle as possible, make sure you provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. While food quantity is essential, so too is quality. Eat big but also eat healthily!

10. Train all the angles

It’s not enough to be big; a champion bodybuilder also needs balance and symmetry. That’s why jay Cutler’s workouts feature so many exercises per muscle group; he’s making sure he hits each one from all available angles.

So, while squats ARE a great leg exercise, you also need leg curls, Romanian deadlifts, calf raises, leg extensions, and leg curls to make sure they’re as developed and balanced as possible.

Related: Jay Cutler – 25 Greatness Tips

Should YOU Try the Jay Cutler Workout?

Jay Cutler’s workout is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t involve any complicated training methods or exotic exercises. Instead, it’s a balanced program that follows a traditional body part split.

However, it is a very high-volume training routine. Doing 3-4 sets of as many as ten exercises means you’ll be in the gym for as long as two hours per workout. This may be too much for natural bodybuilders.

As a full-time pro bodybuilder, Jay Cutler had the whole day to train, eat, rest, and recover. Going to the gym was his job! You probably aren’t so lucky and need to balance your workouts with your work and social life.

Plus, without performance-enhancing drugs, recovering from such lengthy workouts would be all but impossible.

So, while you could follow a program similar to Jay Cutler’s, you’ll probably need to do fewer sets or less exercises so that you don’t end up letting other aspects of your life slip.

More Related Workouts:

Jay Cutler Workout – Wrapping Up

Jay Cutler had a long and illustrious bodybuilding career, crowned with four Mr. Olympia titles. Part of this longevity is undoubtedly due to his lack of serious injuries, which, in part, can be attributed to his high volume but moderate-intensity approach to training.

That’s not to say Cutler didn’t train hard – of course, he did! However, he mostly avoided using heavy weights and doing less than eight reps per set, preferring instead to use moderate weights and 10-12 reps for most of his training. He seldom trained to failure.

So, while you may not be able to match Cutler for training volume, his otherwise sensible training approach could be just what you need if things like working to failure and other high-intensity methods leave you feeling sore or injured.


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